One of my favorite dishes to cook at home during the year’s coldest months is wholesome roast chicken. Not only is it easy to prepare, there is nothing quite as delicious as the smell of roast chicken wafting through your home. It ramps up the excitement for the finale at your table. My Farmhouse Style Roast Chicken is an entire meal cooked up in one pan, so easy cleanup, too. Cook more than you need for one meal because home cooked, ready to eat roast chicken is great for sandwiches, salads, soups, and old fashioned casseroles.

I can never stress enough to a home cook: always start with the absolute best products you can find. I suggest free range, organic, or kosher chickens. If you want a locally sourced chicken, Griggs town Farms sells its farm raised, hormone free fresh chickens at its farm in Griggs town (near Princeton) or at Delicious Orchards in Colts Neck.

The question I get asked the most by home cooks is how to tell when the chicken is done. An instant read thermometer takes all the guess work away. Insert it into the thickest part of the chicken (thickest part on breast near the bottom of the chicken and near the thigh bone), and when the thermometer reads 160 degrees, it’s done. Let it rest for ten minutes before carving.

You can stuff the chicken, too. Use any day old bread, cornbread, or even leftover waffles. Toasted Eggo Waffles make a delicious stuffing. This is great for kids to get involved have them mix up the bread, savory herbs, sautéed celery, onions, even dried chopped cranberries, all by hand. It’s the best method for mixing stuffing. They will love it. If you use Eggos, you can joke around with your kids and just before carving, grab a leg and say, “Hey Eggo let go of my leggo!”

2 three pound free range roasting chickens, thoroughly rinsed and patted dry Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
4 large Idaho potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
2 large onions, diced
1 pound button mushrooms, wiped clean and trimmed
1 pound slab bacon, diced
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 cups apple cider
3 tablespoons Wondra flour dissolved in three tablespoons chicken broth

Nicole Spread

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Season the chickens, inside and out, with salt and pepper. Truss the chickens and place them on a rack on a roasting pan.

Combine the potatoes, onions, mushrooms, and bacon in a mixing bowl, add the vegetable oil, and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat well. Transfer the nicely oiled vegetables and bacon to the roasting pan. Place the pan in the preheated oven and roast for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven to 375 degrees and continue to roast, turning the vegetables and bacon occasionally, for about 30 minutes or until an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken (between the thigh and breast) reads 160 degrees. Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the chicken and the vegetables to a serving platter. Tent them lightly with aluminum foil and allow them to rest for ten minutes before carving the chicken into serving pieces (the carving should be done at the table).

Remove the rack from the pan. Place the roasting pan on top of the stove over high heat. Add apple cider and bring the mixture to a boil, frequently scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release all of the browned bits. Boil for about five minutes or until cider has reduced slightly. Reduce the heat to medium and whisk in the flour chicken broth mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook, whisking constantly, for about five minutes or until the gravy has thickened slightly and the raw flour taste has cooked out. Pour gravy into a gravy boat and keep it warm until ready to serve. Carve the chicken into large serving pieces, home style, and serve directly from the platter with roasted vegetables and crisp bacon bits.
David Burke and Judith Choate (2006) David Burke’s New American Classics, New York, Alfred A. Knopf

Chef David Burke